Boone County Convention and Visitors Bureau Saves Local Tradition

The Boone County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) stepped in to save a local tradition in Zionsville that brings tourism to the county as well as supports a local business and ecosystem, all while creating beautiful memories and opportunities for respite from one’s daily grind.

Fly-Fishing Promotes Tourism in Zionsville

The previous two Novembers, rainbow trout had been stocked because of former Zionsville mayor and resident Tim Haak’s initiative to obtain a stocking permit from Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and with the assistance of local enthusiasts who contributed to the budget. Haak—an avid angler—worked with the Zionsville Parks & Rec and with Indiana’s DNR to obtain a permit and stock the creek, which has created quite a buzz in the fly-fishing community here locally, throughout Central Indiana and even regionally.

Located in Zionsville, Moving Water Outfitters is Central Indiana’s premier fly-fishing and kayak outfitters. Mike Exl, the general manager and co-owner of Moving Water Outfitters, operates a guide service that takes people out to three Indiana rivers: Sugar Creek, Tippecanoe River and the White River. One can have an enjoyable experience at Eagle Creek, without leaving town limits, and there are a myriad of potential educational opportunities collaborating with the local schools and youth—teaching about local ecosystems and river systems.

Helping Local Bald Eagles Thrive

In just 35 years, the bald eagle went from extirpated in Indiana to a thriving population statewide. The Natural Resources Commission removed bald eagles from the special concern list in 2020, though eagles, nests and eggs are still protected by federal laws. Bald eagles eat mostly fish such as trout.

While stocking the creek with rainbow trout is not specifically aimed at providing a food source for the local bald eagles, it does contribute to the local ecosystem and to the continued recovery of the official national bird.

Fly-Fishing’s Economic Impact

In addition to generating business for the local business Moving Water Outfitters, the tourism impact that it has brings people into town who dine and do other things while visiting the local area.

Boone County Commissioner Tom Santelli serves as vice president of the board of directors for CVB and is a longtime Zionsville resident. He shared his thoughts on preserving the local tradition of stocking the creek and the benefits of being a renowned fly-fishing destination.

“Chris and Jessica Snodgrass and Mike ExI [Moving Water Outfitters owners] said it’s all about the smiles,” Santelli shared. “That young boy who was photographed with his dad, the morning of the stocking, perfectly exemplified that sentiment. The boy was out walking with his dad, and they came down to see what was going on. He [the boy] was totally fascinated by all of it, and it brought immense joy to his dad to see how engaged his son was. It was a beautiful event.”

Santelli continued, “From now until April 2022, it’s catch-and-release, and then people can take the trout [to eat] because the water will start to get up to 76 degrees and the trout will begin to perish. The other part of this is what it brings to the environment. The eagles feed on them as well as other animals over at the Eagle Creek reservoir. It really does help the whole ecosystem as well, as it provides a lot of joy for people and kids. It’s a benefit to the whole county because where else can you fly-fish for trout without having to drive for hours and out of state? This brings in fly-fishing enthusiasts from throughout the county and surrounding counties as well as from out of state. Which is why Mayor Gentry from Lebanon—who also sits on the CVB board—voted in favor of funding the rainbow trout stocking.”

Santelli emphasized that the folks who come in from out of town to fly-fish in Zionsville will put money back into the local economy when they book a room, dine out and enjoy other activities in Boone County.

“The CVB funded the stocking this year because of the fact that everybody in [Boone] county and the surrounding counties can take advantage of this terrific event, as well as folks from out of state, throughout the winter and into April.”

Free Clinics and Private Lessons for All Levels

Exl and his fellow instructors at Moving Water Outfitters offer free clinics that run about two hours in length on Saturday mornings and some Tuesday evenings—four to six times a month. Fly-fishing is a wonderful pastime to spend collecting one’s own thoughts or spending quality time—outdoors—with family.

For more information on Moving Water Outfitters, their products, clinics and more, visit and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.